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Reporting from Thailand

Vennis Hong


Interviewed by Ashley Emuka, GHP Rep

Congrats to our newest Global Health Student of the Month, Vennis Hong! Eager, enthusiastic, and as genuine as they come, Vennis Hong is a third year student who is already positively affecting the world of global health!

Vennis was one winner of the 2015 Field Research Scholarship, announced at the 2nd Annual Horizons of Global Health Symposium last May. She has since traveled to Asia for her fieldwork, fully immersing herself in the beauty of Thai culture and the density of their healthcare. Vennis is certainly one passionate trailblazer that UCSD’s Global Health Program is proud to claim!

Why did you choose to pursue Global Health as your Major?

I chose Global Health as a major because I like its emphasis on the socio-political influences on health. I’m so excited that the interdisciplinary nature of health is becoming more and more recognized! I love the global-ness and diversity of the program, and I love the opportunities it offers—like the field experience!

What Global Health related activities/projects do you have going on right now?

I’m currently studying abroad in Thailand! I spent two weeks learning about border health and border politics, and then I spent another three weeks doing my field project in a rural village called Huay Krathing. The village was in the mountains where there was very limited electricity and running water—a very different environment from the bustling San Diego! Our challenge, simply put, was to help the village become more self-sufficient. My team’s proposal was to start sustainable, seasonal tourism to give the villagers an additional source of income during the rainy season when they can’t grow crops. Our proposal was designed so that villagers would not need outside resources and they would be the leaders of their own program.

What are your future plans?

I’d like to work for government in the future. My ultimate dream is to work for the CDC! Details to be determined!

What is the most interesting book/article/blog you’ve read lately?

I read a dissertation, “Border Towns, and Thai-Myanmar Cross-Border Development: Border Partial Citizenship, Case Studies at the Thai Border Towns” which talks about the interplay of politics and economics in shaping the migrant working conditions in the border region between Thailand and Myanmar. One point that stood out to me was that the Thai government issues partial citizenship to migrant workers, which means they get some really basic rights and a work permit. However, the government doesn’t want migrants to compete with Thai citizens for jobs, so employers are required to hold onto migrants’ paperwork in order to confine them to the factory for which they work. As a result, because they don’t have their paperwork on them, migrant workers are easily taken advantage of by their employers and cannot go on strike. Basically, the migrant worker situation is really complicated and hard to get out of.

What advice do you have for young Global Health students or students considering Global Health?

Step out of your comfort zone, embrace ambiguity!!! I never would have imagined myself living in an isolated village in the mountains, showering with a bucket, and eating farm rats.

Tell us one: favorite movie, favorite song, or favorite part of campus.

Favorite song: Mariah Carey—Emotions

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